Stephen Dunn Click to

Stephen Dunn is the author of fifteen collections of poetry, including Different Hours (Norton, 2000), which received the Pulitzer Prize in 2001. He has received a Guggenheim Fellowship and three NEA Fellowships in Literature, as well as an Academy Award in Literature. His newest book is Lines of Defense (Norton, 2014). Dunn has taught at several institutions, most recently Richard Stockton College of New Jersey.  “Circular” originally appeared in Shenandoah 52/3.

Daylight illuminated, but only for those
who had some knowing in their seeing,
and night fell for everyone, but harder
for some. A belief in happiness bred
despair, though despair could be assuaged
by belief, which required faith,
which made those who had it
one-eyed amid the beautiful contraries.
Love at noon that was still love at dusk
Meant doubt had been subjugated
for exactly that long, and best to have music
to sweeten a sadness, underscore joy.
Those alone spoke to their dogs,
but also to plants, to the brilliant agreeableness
of air, while those together were left
to address the wall or open door of each other.
Oh for logs in the fireplace and a winter storm,
some said. Oh for Scotch and a sitcom, said others.
Daylight concealed, but only for those
fond of the enormous puzzle, and night rose up
earth to sky, pagan and unknowable.
How we saw it was how it was.